Post 11: Italy

Italy has a slightly different background with the Muslim community than other countries within Europe. Most of their history contained little interaction with the Muslim world. Italy had no colonies in Muslim countries and had few come to their country. There was a brief time, under Musalini’s rule, that Italy proclaimed itself as the protector of the Muslim world. The senitment hardly trickled into the Italian culture. Today most of the Muslims are sunni. Many immigrants are also student that have stayed in the country due to war back home.

italian-muslims-milan
Friday Morning Prayer in Milan

In Italy there are certain benefits that religious groups can receive. These benefits originated with the Catholic church, but have since been opened to several minority religions. In order to be recognized by the government an “intesa” has to be signed signifying and agreement has been met. However, Stefano Allievi outlines a few reasons that the Muslim community has yet to do so. The largest issue, Stefano points out, is the fact that most Muslims are not Italian citizens. A majority of the immigrants hope to one day return to their home country. There are other religious groups that are also primarily not Italian citizens, but the Muslims have not been present nearly as long. There are three other issues that come together to basically make Islam an “outsider religion.” These include the different cultural practice or languages used in their institutions, the financial backing from outside countries, as well as the limited amount of Italian converts remaining fairly low.

According to Jamali in his article “Why the US doesn’t have a Muslim problem, and Europe does”, there are a few key differences in the different regions that affect the “Muslim problem.” His main source creates a limited view on what is going on resulting in a small bias. Jamali uses his family and personal experiences to explain what he sees. He follows up his personal observations with facts and statistics that compliment them.

The basic problem that Jamali is addressing is that Muslims in Europe (or Germany in his case) do not feel European. They immigrate to their new country but never fully assimilate. The feeling of isolation, Jamali argues, leads to the large number of individuals heading to Syria to join ISIS. On the other hand, Muslims immigrating to the United States have “no conflict ‘between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society.’” In his personal opinion, Jamali never felt anything other than American despite living in an all white New York suburb.

There are possibly a few different variables to the equation that Jamali also points out. To start with, there are around 19 million Muslims living in Europe, 4.2 million of which are refugees. Muslims are also moving towards becoming 8% of Europe’s population. The United States has only 3.3 million or 1% of the population. In Europe, many in the Muslim community are part of the working class and live in poor neighborhoods. In the US, Muslims “make up 10% of US physicians, are the 2nd most educated group after the Jewish population, [and] are as likely as other American households to report an income of $100,000 or more.”

Based on the facts provided by Jamali, Muslims in America seem to be doing better off than their European counterparts. This may be do to America’s history of immigrants and acceptance built into the constitution. It could also be do to the fact that there is are significantly fewer Muslims in the US population so the modern culture does not feel threatened by the influx of foreigners.

Since the article was published in 2016, the United States has gone through a few changes that may lower the feelings of contentment for the American Muslims. There is a general sense of fear among the American public that was reflected in the 2016 elections. The new head of the US government has already moved towards legislation and opinions that show anti- Muslim sentiment. How these next four years will play out for the Muslims in America or abroad no one knows.

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